Turtle taker wants boat

Charles Edward Pars, who previously pleaded guilty to taking a turtle during closed season, was in Summary Court again on Tuesday in an effort to get his fishing boat back.

The vessel, Miss Shelene, was confiscated after Department of Environment officers found a female turtle aboard the vessel outside George Town Harbour on 1 October.

Pars, 48, was charged with taking the turtle in the vicinity of Twelve Mile Bank on 30 September. Closed season runs from April through November.

His sentencing has been postponed because three other men have pleaded not guilty to related charges.

On Tuesday, Attorney Nicholas Dixey told Magistrate Nova Hall that Pars needed the boat for his livelihood as a fisherman. He had admitted his role and would be prejudiced by the delay in sentencing if the court eventually decided not to order the forfeiture of the vessel, the attorney said.

Crown Counsel John Masters directed the magistrate’s attention to the Marine Conservation Law. It states that where any person has been convicted of an offence under that law, the court may order the forfeiture of any vessel used in the commission of the offence.

But the law also permits the owner of a forfeited vessel to recover it on payment of up to $6,000.

In her ruling, the magistrate noted that forfeiture was still a live issue and would not be determined until Pars’ sentencing.

While she was not making a decision that day, she could think of no reason why she would not allow the boat to be recovered if a forfeiture order were made.

Therefore, the magistrate said, Pars could have his boat in the meantime, upon payment of $6,000 or cash security in that sum. He is not to dispose of the vessel, she warned.

Pars was directed to return to court on 16 March.